Tufts University sign in the snow

Provost's Fellow Michael Stehnach

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Michael Stehnach has been named a 2016 Provost's Fellow.

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate and Provost's Fellow Michael Stehnach.

How did you become interested in fluid mechanics and microfluidics?

I took my first fluid dynamics class during the spring semester of my sophomore year at Merrimack College. During the class, I was very fascinated with how fluids behaved and I realized this is the concentration I wanted to focus on.  I found myself reading and watching videos on different topics related to fluid dynamics in my spare time because it fascinated me.  To be honest, I did not know much about microfluidics before meeting Dr. Guasto.  When I was contacted by Dr. Guasto in the spring semester, he told me about his research and it seemed very interesting so I looked into it and I knew this would be a very interesting topic to do research in.

What kind of research have you worked on in this area? What are the broader implications of your research?

As an undergrad, I did not have the opportunity to complete any experimental research related to fluid dynamics. However, I tried to read about new discoveries related to fluids so I could increase my knowledge in the field.  Whenever a research paper was assigned in one of my classes, I tried to pick a difficult topic or a recent discovery so I could increase my knowledge in the field.

What research topics do you think you might pursue?

I am not sure exactly what research topics I might pursue, though I am sure whatever I end up working on will be very interesting and I will love doing it. I think it would be very interesting if I can work with either the School of Medicine or the School of Veterinary Medicine. If I could help people or animals in any way, that would be awesome. Whatever research I conduct, I want it to help people and make the world a better place.

What made Tufts the right choice for you?

Tufts made me feel wanted. I completed my undergraduate degree at Merrimack College, which is a small school in North Andover, MA. At Merrimack, all the professors really cared about making sure the students understood the material, which allowed me to get a solid fundamental base in the field of mechanical engineering. When I was applying to graduate schools, I knew I wanted to attend a larger research school. When I say larger, Merrimack had just under 3,000 students, so I just wanted a school with more people. Also, I wanted to make sure the school I was attending had interesting research. When I visited Tufts for admitted students’ day, I got a good feeling when I was walking around and I knew it was the school I wanted to attend.

Once you finish your degree program, what would you ultimately like to be doing with your time?

I am not sure if I will want to work in industry or academia when I finish my degree. However, when I get older, I would like to work in academia. When I get my degree, I would be very happy working in a national lab or at a university conducting research.

What does having this fellowship and the financial support mean to your ability to pursue a graduate education?

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in research so I knew I wanted to go to graduate school. However, having this fellowship and the financial support means I do not have to have take out any more loans and I will be able to live in the Medford area on my stipend. It is a good feeling knowing I am financially stable and do not have to live off my parents anymore.